Diversity in The Workplace
Before we examine what diversity in the workplace means from an HR perspective let’s first define it. The Cambridge dictionary tells us that diversity is: ‘the fact of many different types of things or people being included in something.’ But what does that mean in practice for the workplace?
Diversity in the workplace – what it means
What it doesn’t mean, as this blog from This Way Global on top diversity issues in the workplace points out, is a simple meeting of required quotas for employee race and gender. It is, as they say, about much more than that. Workplace diversity takes account of, and works with, the differences your workforce has in:
- Native language
- Political beliefs
- Sexual orientation and
- Communication styles
Here in the UK there is of course, legislation on such things that sets minimum standards for employers to meet. We shouldn’t need to say hough, that a good and effective strategy for diversity and inclusion will extend beyond the bare legal minimum. It will be a policy that seeks to give extra value to an organisation. The HSE (Health and Safety Executive), in its description of the Equality Act 2010, defines diversity as something that recognises and values different backgrounds, knowledge, skills and experience. It then uses those differences to create a productive and effective workforce.
The HSE points out too, the importance of accounting for diversity and in involving people when assessing risk and managing health and safety.
So then, promoting diversity in the workplace is, as the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development), points out, a vital part of good people management. It’s about valuing every member of an organisation as in individual. In such an organisation everyone can play a part and achieve their potential. As they also point out, ‘The moral case for building fairer and more inclusive labour markets and workplaces is indisputable: people matter, and organisations must ensure their people management approaches do not put any group at a disadvantage.’
The benefits of diversity in the workplace
It’s easy enough to see ‘diversity’ as another entry on the political correctness buzzword bingo card. But in fact, it’s worth being serious about it. Why? Because there are concrete, visible benefits to your company and to your staff from workplace diversity. That’s aside from the aforementioned ability to achieve potential.
The advantages of diversity in the workplace
This Emplo.com blog on the advantages of diversity in the workplace is from the USA. But what applies there applies here:
1. Supports innovation.You’ve heard the expression ‘birds of a feather flock together’? Well – a room full of people from the same background are likely to produce ideas/solutions with a broad similarity. Yet a diverse a group may surprise you.
2. Brings global opportunities. There’s no escaping that the Internet has shrunk the globe. It’s brought people closer than ever before. If you seek to do conquer more than your home marketplace then diversity in your workplace will support that. You’ll have staff that understand other cultures and speak other languages and have friends in other countries. Imagine the benefits to your business of all that.
3. Improves your organization’s culture. You’ve heard of Millennials – also known as Generation Y? This group is the most diverse working generation there’s been. Get your organization seen as being accepting, diverse and inclusive and your talent pool will increase and you’ll attract great candidates. And – you’ll create a workplace that’s happier and more productive.
4. Improve your company’s brand. As with office culture, a diverse workforce is a positive influence on your customers’ opinions of you. Millennials are consumers as well as employees! They want the companies they buy from to have the same qualities as those they want to work for. The message a diverse business gives to consumers one of being:
- Global minded
5. Offers better customer service. From speaking a second language to understanding the social mores of other countries, diverse employees are better placed to serve a diverse customer base.
To summsarize, and as the Emplo blog puts it: The advantages of a diverse workplace have wide-ranging effects, including profits, brand and customer loyalty, talent base, employee satisfaction and your business’ ability to innovate and create.
Go-Legal HR are here to offer support and advice in all HR matters – diversity being only one. Find out more about our services here.